How to Paint Outdoor Carpet (With Latex Paint!)
At the beginning of this project, my porch looked like this:
The carpet had seen better days, yes. Like days before I spilled oil-based stain on it.
Or days before I spray painted furniture out there.
But all in all, it wasn't in terrible condition. The stains could be covered up with a strategically placed rug. I didn't love the color, but it seemed really wasteful to replace a perfectly fine floor with something else just because it wasn't exactly what I wanted. Plus, flooring is expensive. To replace the carpet with just about anything else would have started around $200.
So I brainstormed. Could I change the color of the rug? I had two options for that, painting or dyeing. Dyeing seemed the "right" way to change the color of carpet, but since I couldn't remove the carpet from the floor, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to rinse the dye out. In that case, the carpet was likely to bleed every time it rained. Painting was my other alternative, but it would firm/stiffen the carpet in a way that could be unpleasant.
I decided to paint it. Since the carpet was a flat weave outdoor carpet, it wasn't particularly soft to begin with, so I figured a slightly firmer carpet wouldn't be a huge loss. Lucky for me, this gamble worked out, and I was pretty pleased with the result:
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Some General Notes About Painting Carpet
- This requires a lot of paint. Initially, I thought a gallon would be enough. I was very, very wrong. I used four gallons total for my 12' x 18' porch. Carpet soaks up paint like crazy.
- The carpet I was painting was super thin. I believe it's classified as "flat weave" outdoor carpeting, but don't quote me on that. It was not like traditional indoor carpeting; there were no soft fibers sticking up. I wouldn't attempt this on thicker carpet, because A) you'd need so much paint. You'd probably be better off replacing it; and B) the paint would stick all the fibers together and it'd be hard and strange. Yes, the paint firmed up my carpet here, but it wasn't soft to begin with, so the difference isn't that noticeable.
- Color is difficult. First of all, the carpet soaks up the paint. The paint does not cover up the carpet, it soaks in. Because of this, the paint can't lighten the carpet. Meaning: you can only paint the carpet darker, not lighter. Additionally, the paint tints the initial color of the carpet, and as a result, doesn't really appear as the color paint you purchased. Basically, it's unlikely you'll be able to get an exact shade if that's what you're aiming for. In my situation, I was aiming for a dark greyish/blackish/more neutral color, and wasn't too picky about what I got, as long as it wasn't green anymore.
How to Paint Outdoor Carpet (With Latex Paint!)
- Exterior Latex Paint- I didn't bother with the expensive stuff, since the "one-coat" or "superior adhesion" claims didn't really seem applicable here, instead opting for Valspar's "Season-Flex" at Lowes. The color was "Carbonized" by HGTV Home, which is typically a dark grey. As you can see in the pictures, it reads as black once applied to my green carpet.
- Spray Bottle
- General Painting Supplies- Roller, tray, paintbrush, etc
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Step 0: Vacuum Carpet
I had a fair amount of stuff to clear off the carpet, but even if that hadn't been there, the carpet should be vacuumed before any paint is applied. Otherwise, small debris is likely to get stuck in the paint job, which is never desired!
Step 1: Prep Paint
I watered down the paint before starting in order to increase the likelihood that the paint would soak into the carpet, not just stiffen on top. I wish I could tell you I added x cups per gallon, but I didn't anything so scientific. I just poured the paint into the paint tray, added some water (about a quarter of a mug,) and halfheartedly mixed it around a bit. The amount of water I added probably differed significantly each time, and the variation didn't really seem to make much difference.
Step 2: Spray Water
I worked in 2' x 2' square sections, slowly working my way across the room. To start, I sprayed water on the section with a spray bottle. This is a little slow going, so if you have a hose or other power sprayer, that could be a lot more effective.
The water helps prep the carpet for the paint. I tried applying paint without the water, and it was more difficult to spread it around the section, slowing down the process and using up more paint.
Step 3: Apply Paint
Using a paint roller, I applied the paint to the square section. I tried to get the paint as even as possible throughout the section, but frankly, the paint soaks in so quickly that it's difficult to spread it around. Instead, I opted to do multiple coats to make sure the carpet looked evenly covered.
For any edges I used a paintbrush so I didn't inadvertently paint the siding of the house or the screens of the porch!
Step 4: Repeat Steps 1 - 3
I emptied my paint tray at an alarming speed, and honestly, I think I spent more time refilling the tray with paint than I did actually painting.
So, I foolishly thought one gallon of paint would be enough for the whole project. The above picture is how much that one gallon actually covered... I ended up using four gallons of paint. Luckily, Lowes was having a sale on paint, so this was still a pretty cheap project despite the excessive amount of paint required.
As you can see in the above photo, after the carpet was very blotchy at the end of the first coat. Another coat of paint, following the exact same process, solved this issue.
The carpet was much less blotchy after the second coat. However, there were still a couple of uneven spots, so...
Step 5: Touch Up Any Uneven Spots
While I could have done a third coat, that seemed like more work and money when there were only a couple greenish spots. Instead, I walked around with a paintbrush and added paint where I saw green. That was enough to create an even look for my porch!
I am so glad I did this project. I was super nervous about it at first (who paints carpet??) but it turned out so well.
Unfortunately, the paint didn't cover up the white spray paint stain. You can see it pretty clearly in two photos below.
I had planned to put down a rug on that half of the seating area anyway, so I dragged out an old rug that my mother gave me. She claims it's an exterior rug, but I have my doubts.
I think it really pops against the dark grey carpet. I'd taken it out when the carpet was green, and it looks so much better against the grey. It makes me so happy I went ahead and painted the carpet.
If you look closely, you'll see my cat also snuck out while I was dragging out the rug. Let me assure you, exploring the porch was the highlight of her week.